This talk first aired at RECON Remote 23 on Sunday, August 20, 2023.
Watch this talk if you want to customize your games so every team feels challenged and successful!
Adaptive Difficulty: Strategies For Making Games That Both Newbies & Enthusiasts Will Love
This video is now available on the Room Escape Artist YouTube channel!
Speakers: Chris & Anne Lukeman Company: Champaign-Urbana Adventures in Time and Space (“CU Adventures”)
As the escape room industry matures, it becomes increasingly important to design games for both first time and experienced players. These two audiences have a lot in common, but thinking about how your game accommodates both can make the difference in converting a player to a true fan and reinvigorating your customers to love the hobby (and not treat it like a passing fad). Anne and Chris will talk about a variety of low tech and high tech solutions along with the pros and cons of each.
Chris and Anne Lukeman run an escape room company in a small town where many of their players are first-timers. Their players range from birthday parties to college groups to nursing home groups to experienced enthusiasts. We recommend their games! The RECON team asked the Lukemans to share how they keep such a range of teams in terms of size, experience, and skills happy.
They discuss the pros and cons of hints as adaptive gameplay, time dilation, bonus puzzles, gamemaster-controlled changes, and automated systems.
Watch Errol Elumir’s talk on Puzzle Design and Gai Bosco and Lee Ballan’s talk on Game Design when they are released for the full set of design talks from RECON Remote 23.
Highlights from the live Discord chat
In the chat, RECON attendees were excited about some of the sets in the background of the video: “Now that’s a dragon!”
There was discussion about diegetic hint systems that allow the gamemasters to nudge, hints when players don’t want them, and pre-recorded versus live hints.
There was some division over the concept of time dilation, with some chatters agreeing with this and others expressing concern that players will be upset if we give them more time without them knowing. There was also debate over having bonus puzzles: “I had the ‘won, got bonus, failed, felt like we lost’ experience.” Chatters also disagreed whether bonus puzzles should be incorporated in the middle of the game or added at the end.
There was agreement on the importance of “reading the group.” It was noted that one con of automatic adaptation is that faster teams are not necessarily teams who will want more content.
Behind the scenes
You can’t tell from this top-quality video, but it was filmed after Chris and Anne Lukman ran Critical Putt (miniature golf + puzzles + RPG) all weekend at Gen Con, and just before a week of illness. The Lukemans are pro filmmakers and it shows.
RECON Los Angeles 24
Join us in person for RECON’s next curated lineup of talks. We’ll be in Los Angeles, California, August 18th & 19th, 2024.